Don’t Want A Parking Ticket? Then Watch Where You Park!

NIKA ROLCZEWSKI
Special to The Star

Yellow is a happy colour. It’s reminiscence of daffodils, lemons and sunshine But when it’s the hue of a piece of paper on your windshield or handed to you by an officer – it’s not that happy any more.

If you’re of the majority of drivers you have experienced the gift of a yellow ticket at least once in your driving career. This notice of a traffic violation even at the best of times can ruin a person’s day, create bouts of rage and hurt the pocket book.

Substitute teacher, Ala Galica was horrified to get a parking ticket outside of a church in Toronto’s west-end. “I consider myself an educated person. But I even had a hard time deciphering the dates and times I could legally park”. After more than thirty years of driving it was her first parking infraction. Of the “five signs” she read she failed to notice that at a certain time parking was no longer allowed in front of the building. Missing that detail was a thirty dollar mistake.

The dreaded parking ticket is the prize for misbehaving on average 7000 to 8000 times a day (Monday to Friday) in the GTA. For some it’s the cost of doing business in the city for others it’s an unfair cash grab.

“For most it’s a pain in the behind” a parking enforcement officer that asked to remain nameless. As for names, he’s been called “every one in the book and in every language”. Some times from the “sweetest looking old ladies”. For this officer it just comes with the territory. “I’m just doing my job” he adds. Still new to the beat, the worst thing so far to happen besides being sworn at is having the ticket ripped up and thrown at him.

Staff Sergeant of Toronto Police Services- Traffic enforcement, Frank Ruffolo has heard all the excuses. “Only about 3% of parking ticket holders request a court date” he says. “It’s pretty clear cut. Drivers park in legal or illegal spots”. Ruffolo adds that the majority of people know when they are parking illegally. Reason being why very little parking infractions end up being fought in front of a judge. In his three decades of driving he’s received on two parking tickets.

For those that don’t pay, a court conviction can be in the works. Disregarding a parking ticket can build up the fine and make it impossible to renew your plate sticker the next year.

Ruffalo’s advice: “Don’t ignore the signs”. The “No stopping or no standing” signs are there to improve rush hour routes. He asks motorists to be courteous during rush hour and obey the law. “It’ll improve safety and traffic flow and even help cut down smog.”

The majority of people pay the fine. The options are plenty- payment can be made online, in person, at a bank, by mail or by telephone.

To dispute a parking ticket it gets more complicated. The back of the Infraction Notice or Notice of Impending Conviction advises us of where to go. Within the time specified, you must bring the notice personally to one of the four GTA locations of Parking Tag Operations.

There a staff member at the counter will listen to your concerns. They are limited to do only three things according to the City of Toronto. If there is sufficient information to show the issuance of the yellow paper was in error they can withdraw the charge but only under certain circumstances.
Often the staff provide more information regarding the by-law or infraction or initiate a further investigation.

If they can’t help you find justice it’s at this time you may request a trial. A “Notice of Intention to Appear in Court” must be filed with the counter clerk. This will get you your day in court, time and date to be mailed to you.

All this work makes it much easier to just grin and pay it. For Galica it was bitter. To take time off work would cost her more than the fine. She ended sending off the cheque for thirty dollars – money that came out of a donation she had planned to make to a charity.

In turn she donated to the City’s coffers, who can in turn, use the money to plant daffodils – yellow ones.

Nika

Nika

Nika has had a love for cars and racing since childhood. A regional racing license holder she has been involved with the industry, working with racers, teams, journalists and automobile manufacturers in sponsorship solicitation, logistics, hospitality, road show and communication program implementation.